Boston Public Schools working toward 3 possible reopening plans

BOSTON (WHDH) - With just two months remaining before students head back to school, Boston Public Schools is working toward releasing three possibilities of what classes could look like this fall by the end of July.

“Right now, we’re in the midst of working on different models of what schools could look like coming back in September. A lot of people have a lot of concerns,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said during a Friday press conference. “There’s a portion of people that don’t think we should open in September, there’s a bigger part of the community, I think, that thinks we should open some type of school in September, and there’s some people that quite aren’t sure how to format a plan yet.”

School districts across the Commonwealth were told to plan for in-person learning with new safety requirements, a hybrid of in-person and remote learning, and continued remote learning for the upcoming school year.

Boston Public Schools spokesperson Jonathan Palumbo told the Boston Globe the district will enforce strict social distancing guidelines if students return to the classroom by having desks spaced 6 feet apart, which goes above the 3-foot minimum included in state guidelines.

Families may also reportedly have to decide in August if they want their children to opt-out of in-person learning.

The district is actively searching for more space where they could expand classrooms into other buildings, Palumbo told the newspaper.

Meetings will be scheduled where caregivers can give feedback.

“Every decision is made through the lens of what is safest for students and teachers and in consultation with public health officials,” Palumbo said in a statement to 7NEWS. “We are surveying our families and staff and hosting a series of public engagement opportunities to continue gathering feedback from our community. We will share the details of all plans as they develop.”

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy says the union is pushing for a phased reopening of schools.

“Without a phased reopening, that allows everybody to make contingency plans; we will be back into the chaos of the spring,” she said.

Since students and teachers haven’t been in the hallways or classrooms since mid-March, Najimy believes a phased reopening would allow everyone time to acclimate.

“This is a critical moment in society,” she said. “If we race in to reopen schools without full funding, without a careful plan and without full staff, we are going to cause more damage and spread the pandemic.”

Walsh added that “there’s no question about it that opening school this year is going to cost more. He also said that he has “no intention of laying anyone off.”

Boston Public Schools hopes to start educating families in August about what’s ahead so they can start to prepare.

More concrete details are likely to come out at a school committee meeting on July 22.

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